Who is Jeannette Walls’ husband? How does he change her life and shape the story in The Glass Castle?
Jeannette Walls’ husband came from a wealthy family and helped Jeannette feel as though she belonged in society. She kept her family and her past a secret from her friends and colleague in New York.
Read more about Jeannette Walls’ husband, and why she decided the marriage wasn’t right for her.
Jeannette Walls’ Husband: Eric Goldberg
After being in New York and working, Jeannette finally moved out of the psychologist’s house and into an upscale apartment on Park Avenue belonging to her long-time boyfriend, Eric. Jeannette liked Eric for his obsessive organization and responsible nature. He was from a wealthy family, didn’t waste money, and was kind. Still, Jeannette remembered her parents’ joy at finding their place in the world within the squatter community. She wondered if she was where she was supposed to be.
She was thriving at the magazine. She made good money and wrote a weekly column, which was basically a gossip column about prominent figures in the New York social scene. She interviewed famous and influential people and was invited to fancy parties and events. Jeannette had finally become someone who had their finger on the pulse of society.
Rose Mary thought Jeannette had sold out. She wanted Jeannette to write important stories about social inequality and housing issues. Rex, however, was Jeannette’s biggest fan. He read all of her articles and researched the people she wrote about at the library. Every now and then, he’d call her up with a piece of juicy gossip he’d unearthed about someone’s past.
Jeannette kept the secret of her family and background even more closely guarded. She told herself this new exclusive world wouldn’t accept her if they knew the truth. She never brought up her parents, and when asked a direct question, she’d pull out the same lie she told the child welfare worker: Rose Mary was an artist, and Rex was an inventor working on a system to burn low-grade coal. She said they lived in a big house on a hill overlooking Welch. The truth was the even Jeannette Walls’ husband didn’t know her real sttory.
Jeannette Walls and Eric Goldberg were married four years after she moved in. Their life together was stable and uneventful, and that was just the right speed for Jeannette. Jeannette Walls’ husband helped her have a stable and happy life.
The Awful Truth
A few months after Jeannette Walls and Eric Goldberg’s wedding, Rose Mary’s brother, Jim, died. Grandma Smith had left the other half of the Texas land to Jim. Rose Mary wanted to make sure the land stayed in the family, so she told Jeannette to ask Eric to help her buy it. Jeannette was happy to help and said she had some money saved up. All she needed was the land value to start the process. Rose Mary was cagey, as she had been their whole lives about the land. But when Jeannette pressed her, she said she needed a million dollars and was hoping to get it from Jeannette Walls’ husband.
Jeannette nearly fell off her seat. She thought about how her uncle’s land was the same size as her mother’s. She asked if Rose Mary’s land was worth the same amount, but Rose Mary said she didn’t know. She’d never had it appraised, but she guessed it was more or less the same.
Jeannette was floored. Her mind raced through all those years without food or heat or water or clothes. She thought about the years her parents had been on the streets and squatting in an abandoned building. Was it really possible that Rose Mary had allowed all of them to live that way while sitting on top of a gold mine?
Jeannette Walls’ husband had the money, but she wasn’t going to ask for that much. Rose Mary said she was disappointed. She’d never asked Jeannette for anything, and now Jeannette wouldn’t help her keep the precious family land. She’d expected more from her daughter.
A year after Maureen left, Rex called Jeannette and asked to see her. He also asked if she’d bring him a bottle of vodka. When Jeannette arrived to their tenement, a half-gallon of vodka in tow, she found her parents snuggled under a blanket in bed. They were older, more worn and weathered, and overly thin.
Rex announced that he was dying. He said he’d contracted a rare tropical blood disease from a Nigerian drug dealer. In actuality, all the years of smoking and drinking had caught up to him. He had a few weeks to months left, which meant he might not live to see sixty.
Jeannette grew discontent with her life. She couldn’t stay still anymore and always wanted to be someplace other than where she was. She took up ice skating just to feel like she was moving forward. But even that didn’t help. Within a year, Jeannette Walls and Eric Goldberg divorced, and she and moved out of the apartment. She found a small apartment and finally felt like she was where she belonged.
———End of Preview———
Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best summary of Jeannette Walls's "The Glass Castle" at Shortform.
Here's what you'll find in our full The Glass Castle summary:
- The author's unbelievable childhood as her absent parents went on alcoholic binges
- How Jeannette and her siblings escaped their parents to strike out on their own
- The complicated relationship Jeannette had with her parents before they died